Domingo | 30 Outubro 2005
22:00, Sala 1
John Zorn “Cobra”
Integrado no ciclo Novas Músicas, John Zorn vem à Casa da Música apresentar “Cobra”, a «game piece» mais conhecida do seu reportório e a que mais vezes foi objecto de revisão. Um registo duplo – com uma versão de estúdio e outra ao vivo – onde se recordam as actuações colectivas com músicos como Arto Lindsay, Zeena Parkins, Elliott Sharp, Wayne Horvitz e Christian Marclay realizadas em 1985 e 86.
Tendo por base o improviso de John Cage e a intuição de Stockhausen, o saxofonista e compositor nova-iorquino desenvolveu os seus próprios conceitos que descreve, nos seus álbuns, como “um jogo com regras fixas e muito específicas, mas pensadas para proporcionar situações musicais democráticas, em que os participantes encontram lugar para concretizarem as suas perspectivas pessoais”. Apesar de recorrer ao conceito de democracia, a difícil personalidade do ex-líder dos Naked City, incoerência e autoritarismo valeram-lhe algumas inimizades no meio.
E porque o proeminente é o improviso, não se espere que John Zorn oriente os ouvintes e lhes diga quais são as regras para o acompanhar. Trata-se de uma música muito confusa. Ouvir uma «game piece» de Zorn é como escutar um caos controlado. Tal como a obra de Fela Kuti, Sun Ra, Neil Young ou Frank Zappa, John Zorn é um artista cuja extensão e importância da obra só é compatível à de cada um dos discos, e não são poucos. Através da sua editora, Tzadik, o saxofonista conseguiu editar com toda a liberdade que a sua obra sempre lhe exigiu. No final dos anos 90, Zorn estava a publicar seis álbuns por ano.
Inspirado por outros artistas e estilos de música, o norte-americano interessou-se por cartoons, compondo para filmes de animação, bandas-sonoras e espectáculos de televisão. Descrevê-lo como um músico de jazz é limitar a sua abrangência e complexidade. A rebeldia, imprevisibilidade, distância e sentido de humor de John Zorn fazem do músico norte-americano uma referência no mundo da música avant-garde.
“Cobra” – que estará no centro das atenções nesta visita do músico ao Porto – é um documento essencial para todos aqueles que se interessem pela cena nova-iorquina e pelo improviso em geral.
“My musical world is like a little prism. You look through it and it goes off in a million different directions. Since every genre is the same, all musicians should be equally respected. It doesn’t matter if it’s jazz, blues, or classical. They’re all the same”
Lista dos músicos envolvidos na apresentação
John Zorn COBRA : Portuguese Ensemble
- Carlos Zíngaro, violino
- Carlos Bica, contrabaixo
- Henrique Fernandes, contrabaixo
- Nuno Rebelo, guitarra
- José Miguel Pinto, guitarra
- Albrecht Loops, guitarra / twintar
- João Martins, ContraTear / MeSA
- Rodrigo Pinheiro, piano
- Eurico Amorim, fender rhodes
- Gustavo Costa, bateria
- Jorge Queijo, bateria
- Manuel Campos, percussão
- Mário Teixeira, percussão
How Cobra Works
From the Downtown Music gallery web site.
When Cobra is performed, Zorn, as the prompter (sort of a conductor) stands in front of a table which has rows of cards with different symbols on each. The 10 to 13 players sit in a circle in front of him, flashing hand signals to their mouth, nose, eye, ear, head and palm. The prompter can accept their signals or not.
A segment of the game begins once the prompter brings the card(s) down to the table, giving the players a certain direction to follow, which can be changed mid-segment with different types of tactics. The players chosen for each performance of Cobra are just as important as the rules they must play by. The best versions of Cobra are those where the players really comprehend what’s happening, they are both challenged and have fun and some wonderful music is made in the process. If you a chance to see/hear a version of Cobra performed live, I urge you to do so. It begins to make more sense by watching.
From Browbeat magazine, 1990 (found on the web)….
You had a performance of Cobra this week at the Great American Music Hall, that’s that card/war game . . .
Zorn: Yeah, that’s my game piece. It’s not a war game. A lot of people get upset with that stuff. Apparently, Willie Winant tried to do the piece down in San Diego, or somewhere down south at some school, and some girl student got really upset and tried to blockade the performance. Cause she didn’t like the use of the word “tactics” or “guerilla systems” or “cutthroat.” This military stuff. We gotta get rid of that.
How does that work? Is it difficult to explain?
Zorn: Well, what do we have now? Ten minutes? Really it’s best to (chuckle) just go on to another subject. To put it like into one sentence, it’s kind of a loose system that permits improvisers to interrelate and react to each other in different ways.
And you as conductor control it by….
Zorn: I don’t control it at all. It’s all up to the musicians in the group. They control it. They make all the cues, and they tell me what they want, and then I act like a mirroring device so that everyone can see what the cues are.
Oh…so, you’re not directing who is improvising. You’re saying…
Zorn: No, not all.
You are telling everybody else who someone wants to improvise with?
Zorn: Right. Like someone will say, well I wanna do this now. So they will tell me and I’ll tell everyone else with these cards. And then at anytime, anybody can…
Aren’t you choosing? Like if several people are saying I want to do this…
Zorn: Well, of course. Like you have seven people with their hands up. I gotta make a choice. Y’know, that’s tough. Sometimes I gotta go with someone that has an idea and make several calls in a row, because they got an idea. And sometimes I stick with just one person for a while. That may seem unfair. Then I’m like enough of this guy and then I’ll take someone that hasn’t made a call in a while or . . . if there are five people with their hands up and there is one person that has never made a call in the piece, then I’ll take that person. And I try to be as diplomatic as I can, but it always ends up being a psychodrama up there on stage. (laughs) That’s what those pieces are about.
A friend saw the show and said that when you switched from one improvisational set, I guess you could call it, to another that it was just flawless. It just jumped from one to the next…
Zorn: That’s very simple. You just give a downbeat, and say at this downbeat a change is gonna happen. Some cards [are] just any kind of change. Some cards are more specific, like everybody drops out except one person. It’s like a very complicated toggle switch. It’s an on and off switch for the all the people in the band. I never talk about what they play, because each person has a very personal style. Y’know, they’ve developed a language on their instrument that nobody else can duplicate, so I wanted to find a way to harness that kind of talent in a compositional arc. What I came up with was this kind of game structure that talks about when people play, and when they don’t play, but doesn’t talk about what they do at all. So everyone gets gassed when they’re doing it. I mean, it really is a psychodrama!
I heard it was really fun to watch.
Zorn: It’s a blast to watch. It’s a lot more interesting live than it is on record. I mean, it really is a theatrical event. It’s a sporting event! Cause you never know what’s gonna happen.
There’s a lot of humor involved.
Zorn: Yeah! Usually the people in the band have a sense of humor.